November 25, 2020

‘Dialysis at Home’ patients thriving through lockdown

Lockdown was a difficult time for many of our patients, but for some Dialysis at Home patients, these last seven months brought significant changes and improvement to their life and care.

Paula Kuder, Nurse Unit Manager Dialysis at Home, explained most of their patients had home treatments set up prior to the pandemic, and the team had set up remote monitoring for these patients.

“We have continuous contact with our patients and, through our programs, we can see everything that is happening with their dialysis at home. All our patients were safely looked after during the pandemic and were able to safely isolate at home,” she explained.

A number of renal patients hadn’t considered Dialysis at Home before the pandemic, but were now more open to switching to a home setting.

One of these patients is Asiasiga Esekia, who is only 29 years old, and has been coming to hospital three times a week for the last two years. She was struggling to balance family life with two kids, a full time job and dialysis at hospital. Before the pandemic, she was anxious to have dialysis at home, but the pandemic was a chance for her to change her mind.

“During the lockdown, she completed her home dialysis training and was able to transition to full home dialysis. She really thrived through the lockdown and was able to put a positive spin on her situation,” Paula said.

“I started the home option two weeks ago and I already feel that I have the control of my life back. I am now there for my two kids, especially for my daughter who goes to school. Before, I had to come to hospital and spend hours here, now I hook up the machine in the evening and sleep through my dialysis. That allows me to have the family time that we need. I would recommend home dialysis to all patients, especially young ones – you will have your whole day back,” Asiasiga added.

Another patient is Jaspreet Greewal, who had been on home dialysis for the last three and a half years, and was looking forward to potentially getting a kidney transplant this year. During the lockdown, she was worried that her transplant might get delayed.

Then, her phone rang in the middle of the night.

“I didn’t even answer, thinking it was my family from overseas. Then they called my husband, and told us about the transplant. It was amazing! I had my transplant in August and everything is going well now. I didn’t expect the call, as I thought all transplants are cancelled due to COVID-19,” Jaspreet said.

Paula explained Northern Health patients are affiliated with other hospitals like Royal Melbourne and Monash Health and participate in the shared care model.

“Jaspreet was our patient through the whole journey and had her transplant at Monash Health. Once the procedure was done, our doctors took over the care post surgery. She is now on immunosuppressants which makes her even more vulnerable, not just to COVID-19, but to things like flu and similar. It was very brave of her to undergo this procedure in these times,” she said.

“One of our nephrologists volunteered his time to come to our offices every Tuesday and Thursday to enable patients to have a face to face review, outside the main campus. As well, the rest of the medical and extended renal team has rallied together to support us. That was great support for all our patients. We started with 25 patients having home dialysis to now 37 patients,” Paula added.

Paula is hoping to see this model of care implemented in other specialities, not just in the renal space. The team considers themselves lucky just to have a unit dedicated to training patients, especially away from the main hospital building.

“The Home Dialysis Awareness Program is much more sustainable for patients, and it links with our Staying Well Program, which is focused on looking after patients in the community. This models allows us to really get to know our patients, and that is what patient-centred care is all about,” she added.

Featured Image: Asiasiga Esekia (back), Jaspreet Greewal (middle), Paula Kuder (front)